Michael Conforto entered play on Aug. 3 hitting .197/.324/.325. In the 25 games since, he has slashed .276/.389/.500 with four home runs. Basically, he’s been prime Conforto.
Along the way, Conforto delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon and clocked a two-run homer that provided the difference on Tuesday night.
Will Conforto’s surge continue through the end of the regular season? And what will it mean for his Mets future?
Earlier this week, Conforto was open when asked whether he had thought about the possibility that he could be playing his final month with the Mets. Instead of doing what so many players do and deflecting, Conforto said that the thought had indeed crossed his mind.
It has been an incredibly disappointing season for Conforto, who lost a large chunk of it due to a hamstring injury and had been largely lost at the plate until a month or so ago.
Conforto’s struggles got so bad that manager Luis Rojas said on Aug. 2 that Conforto was “thinking too much” at the plate and that he could possibly remain on the bench.
Instead, Conforto has been a lineup mainstay since then, with the brief benching and Rojas’ comments immediately preceding the hot streak that turned his season around.
“The quality at-bats were more in August. We saw him laying off of more pitches and taking better swings as a whole. Probably result-wise, he wasn’t exactly what you expect out of Michael, but I think he’s really close to being that guy.”
When it comes to “that guy” Rojas is referring to Conforto being, it’s a guy who hit .259/.358/.484 over the first six seasons of his career while averaging just shy of 30 homers a year.
It’s that guy who seemed to be in line for either a massive extension from the Mets before this season (with them choosing the possibility of Conforto tomorrow over George Springer today) or a huge free agent deal from the Mets or another team after the 2021 season.
Now, it’s fair to wonder just how much Conforto might get if he hits the open market.
His offensive talent is undeniable, he has become a very good right fielder, and he is a great clubhouse guy. But how much will his down 2021 hurt him? And how much would he have to hit over the final month to erase what was an incredibly disappointing season through early August?
As Conforto nears free agency, the Mets have an enormous decision to make. And the circumstances surrounding Noah Syndergaard could make that decision even more difficult.
Both Conforto and Syndergaard are eligible for the one-year qualifying offer that will be around $20 milion. When it comes to Syndergaard, who is attempting to make it back this season as a reliever but who is not planning to throw his slider or curve this season due to advice from doctors, it seems likely he would accept the QO if it came his way.
Would Conforto accept it, and would the Mets be comfortable offering it to two players?
If the Mets aren’t comfortable offering it to two players, who are they more likely to extend it to?
Additionally, if the Mets were so high on Conforto that they passed on signing Springer in order to potentially fit him in long-term, it’s fair to wonder just how much that thinking would change based on a few months of poor production.
It’s pretty clear that the Mets, whose offensive futility this season has been almost impossible to believe, need to shake things up a bit this offseason when it comes to their position players. Will that shakeup include the departure of Conforto, or is he still viewed as part of the future?